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Toys given to over 400

By MARLAN JONES,

Toys for Tots made a stop in Mendenhall last Friday and provided gifts to over 400 children.

The event was coordinated by Zeta Phi Beta Rho Iota Zeta Sorority, with support from the City of Mendenhall, the Mendenhall Area Chamber of Commerce, and others.

The event was hosted at the Mendenhall Armory. Local children and their parents gathered at the entrance of the armory as volunteers escorted each child one by one onto a floor full of toys. Santa Claus also attended. Deonka Mazie, Toys for Tots local area coordinator, said, “The process is organized chaos at first, but it’s all worth it to see the children smile.”

Toys for Tots is a national program sponsored by the US marine Corp. The mission of the program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during December. These toys are then distributed as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in communities that conduct a campaign.  

The objective of Toys for Tots in addition to helping the less fortunate experience the joy of Christmas is to play an active role in the development of the nation’s most valuable resources--its children--and to unite all members of local communities in a common cause.

Mazie explained that over 21,000 children in Mississippi come from families considered low income or who receive some form of aid. She said, “We reach out to them and make sure that they have something for Christmas. More importantly, so they know that Christmas is not about receiving a gift, but about being a gift.”

Maize serves as the coordinator for Copiah, Simpson, Lincoln, Lawrence, and Yazoo counties, and the program is sponsored by the Youth of Change Ministries. Maize said community support is imperative to the success of Toys for Tots campaign. She said, “It is very much needed. We need to have the support of local organizations to help supply the needs, and inform us of the needs of the public.”

A successful campaign takes a lot of effort. Maize explained that children were able to sign up through their local schools and daycares. Maize said, “The children get to come in take a picture with Santa and pick out three gifts.” She affirmed that all of the gifts were new and inspected for safety. This campaign served mostly younger children, but Maize revealed that her area also provides gifts for children up to seventeen.

Peoples Bank, Priority One Bank, Fred’s, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Simpson County School District Office, Mendenhall Police Department, and Rho Iota Zeta Chapter all assisted with collecting and distributing gifts and making the campaign a success. Maize said, “We were able to serve approximately 400 families. Thank everyone for their support. Keep us covered in prayer and keep on giving.”

Rho Iota Zeta Site Coordinator Lillie Hardy explained that her sorority was encouraged by Mayor Todd Booth to look into bringing the program to Mendenhall. Hardy said that instead of adopting a single family they decided to adopt all of the children in need around the Mendenhall area. Hardy said, “We are so excited about being able to do this next year.” Hardy said the plan is to make the event even bigger and provide toys for children throughout the county.